Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Venice- the floating (or sinking?) city

The main square- flooded by rain and tide!
It really looks like this!

View from our hotel room
We're home, plugged back into the real world, already reiminiscing about the wonderful places we saw in Italy and trying to work off a few pounds of pasta and pizza! Our first stop was Venice. It's the craziest city I have ever been in! We took a water bus (i.e., boat) from the airport to the city, which exists completely on an island intersected by countless canals. There are absolutely no cars- imagine every road in your town turned into a winding river, every vehicle turned into a boat and every crosswalk turned into a bridge. The city is a labryinth and it is impossible not to get lost. Many times we turned a corner only to find that our path was a dead-end at the water. So-called streets are as wide as sidewalks; in some we had to turn sideways to allow another person to pass. We often had to collapse our umbrella to avoid scraping buildings on each side. Everything seems mysterious and hidden away.
Apparently, Venice really is sinking. The city floods an average of 100 times each year, mostly in winter. We were lucky enough to witness the city on a "flood alarm" day. Boats full of sandbags roared past our hotel window early. Over the course of the morning, the water literally just rose up over the seawalls into the city. All over town there were wooden platforms at the ready, to be unfolded and stretched along the sidewalks when the water came up. Most first floor buildings had little flood gates across the lower half of their doors. The main square-normally a hub of tourist activity with cafes, cathedral and palace- became a vast wading pool, deep enough in some places to make even rubber boots useless. So all the tourists shuffled along on the narrow walkways, bumping into each others' umbrellas and trying to avoid falling off the side into the knee-deep water. It was a fascinating spectacle and fortunately it did not affect our sight-seeing plans too much. The following morning the flood alarm sounded again but we were already packed up and getting on a water bus to the train station. One day in a flooded city was enough!

1 comment:

cortina said...

yup, it's an amazing place! i can't wait to read more about your trip!